Morning: Exploring the city!
If you have booked your accommodations down the main beach strip of Tran Phu, then wake up early in the morning and join the locals as they head out to the beach across the street to watch the sunrise. You will see many locals playing in the sand, running around with kids or pets, taking a cold morning dip or even meditating. It’s peaceful yet loud at the same time. After watching the sunrise, head to one of the plethora of restaurants down the strip to get some breakfast and a cup of delicious Vietnamese ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) by the beach. This and a delicious bun ca (fish noodle soup) ought to start your morning in the right way.
The coffee will surely fuel your need to walk around and explore the city. Head over to Dam Market before the rest of the city wakes up and decides to do the same; you will get a more authentic experience this way. You can find various goods, from clothes and souvenirs to electronics and dried food. Once the market starts filling up, it’s time to head out.
Visit the Nha Trang Cathedral, set atop a hill overlooking Nha Trang train station. Mass is held multiple times a day, and if you get that chance to observe the local Vietnamese Catholic community go about their rituals and customs, you should. There will be interesting differences to spot. Next, hit up Po Nagar Temple, similar to the My Son Temples of Da Nang or Angkor Wat of Cambodia. The Po Nagar complex was built by the Cham during the time they reigned over parts of Vietnam, and they still stand to this day. For an entrance fee of 22,000 Vietnamese Dong ($0.97), you can enjoy some time up here before the sun gets too strong. Then it’s time to head off for some lunch in an air-conditioned venue.
31 Thai Nguyen, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 258 3823 335
2 Thang 4, Vinh Phuoc, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 89 978 98 15
Afternoon: Beach it!
Grab some lunch in one of Nha Trang’s many restaurants. You can find local food in addition to many types of international cuisines such as Mediterranean, French, American and Indian. Since you are in Vietnam, however, it is best to keep it local. Head over to Bo Nuong Lac Canh restaurant, a DIY style place where you will be served raw ingredients that you cook to your preference over a table grill. Enjoy this interactive meal with your friends before heading off to the beach to digest.
Beach time is always a must in Nha Trang, and you have many options. If you want to steer clear of the crowds in the main beach, head over to a private venue such as The Sailing Club, Nha Trang or Louisiane Brewhouse, both offering upscale experiences. Grab yourself a cocktail from the beach-side bar, call dibs on a reclining chair under a sun umbrella and get working on your tan.
The Sailing Club, 72-74 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Vietnam, +84 258 3524 628
Louisiane Brewhouse, Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Vietnam, +84 258 3521 948
To end the hard day you have just had, pamper yourself at a spa. There are many. Even better, head to one of the famous mud baths in town. Your options are either Thap Ba Hot Springs, 100 Eggs Mud Bath or I-Resort, and there are various other services offered in these spas such as hot stone and herbal massages, pool time, Jacuzzis, saunas and more. It’s the perfect way to ease into the end of your first day in Nha Trang and really begin your holiday.
Thap Ba, Ngoc Hiep, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 258 3835 335
100 Eggs Mud Bath, Phuoc Dong, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 258 3711 733
I-Resort, Vinh Ngoc, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 583838838
A fancy dining venue to top off the night should be perfect. The Sailing Club, Nha Trang, run by chef Phil Ward will offer the best end to your night. If you want to keep it local, head to Oc Xuan Anh restaurant, a favorite among Nha Trang locals and expats, where you can find some delicious fresh seafood for dinner. Plenty of noodle soups and wrap and roll dishes await. Get to sleep early because day two will be a bit more adventurous.
Oc Xuan Anh, 9 Thap Ba, Vinh Tho, Nha Trang, Vietnam, +84 91 218 41 01
Morning: Adventure time!
Wake up early, rent a motorcycle (can be had for the day for as little as $6.00) and get your adventure on. Ba Ho Waterfalls is a 16.78-mile (27-kilometer) long scenic drive along the north coast, and you can find a waterfall made up of three stages. After you park your bike, there will be a 25-minute long hike. You will have to use tree vines as hand and foot holds, so this hike is not that easy. A pair of good shoes will be your best friend. Follow the red arrows painted on rocks and trees; they will show you the way to the stages, and if you are lucky, you will have a stage all to yourself!
After a few hours here, carry on up north. Stop in one of the many local restaurants you see on the side of the road for lunch and afterward, just keep driving. 18 miles (28 kilometers) later, you will end up in Doc Let beach, one of the most beautiful off-the-beaten-track beaches of Vietnam. You can either settle here or carry on just another mile (0.8 kilometers) to get to Jungle Beach, which is a strip of beach owned by Jungle Beach Resort. You don’t have to spend the night here to enjoy the sand and water, but it would be nice if you would order a meal or drink as common courtesy. The beach is virtually untouched by tourists and perfect to spend the rest of the day lying on a hammock and petting stray (but sweet) dogs. With mountains on one side and gentle waves on the other, Jungle Beach is the perfect spot to really get away from everything.
Jungle Beach, Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, +84 91 342 91 44
Come evening, you must head back as it is around a two hour drive back to civilization on the bike. After freshening up at your hotel, head over to Altitude Bar for some nice dinner and drinks to cap off the night. Watching the hustle and bustle of the beach below is the perfect way to say goodbye to such a wonderful city.